Brazil is the largest country in South America and the ninth largest economy in the world. The country also has the highest number of Catholics in the world. However, their percentage is dwindling: while 40 years ago, 90% of Brazilians were Catholic, current surveys show that only between 50 and 64% of the population of about 210 million is Catholic. This is due not least to the lack of young priests and insufficient pastoral care for the faithful – particularly in the remote areas of the Amazon basin. This is precisely where our aid to the Church in Brazil comes in.
The Catholic Church is aware of the difficult position of the local Church in the Amazon region. From 6 to 27 October 2019, the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region took place in Rome. Church representatives discussed problems, such as the increasing clearing of the rain forests, the exploitation of mineral deposits, the situation of the indigenous population and especially pastoral care in these areas.
Adequate care for the faithful is still a great challenge due to the rough terrain, hot and humid climate and immense distances that need to be traversed. Many settlements are only accessible by water. It is not uncommon for the faithful to have to wait several months or even years to receive the sacraments. ACN therefore promotes the formation of priests and supports their trainers through Mass stipends and existential help. We also provide boats for pastoral care in the rainforest communities along the rivers.
Although we face a harsh reality, hope still moves us.Brazilian Bishops’ Conference
The Church in Brazil is also concerned about the increasing spread of various cults. They promise their followers prosperity, success and health and are particularly popular with the poor. Ensuring greater proximity to the faithful and a strengthening of catechesis are indispensable if the Church does not want to lose even more believers. Here, too, our promotion of a new generation of priests is of major benefit to the Church.
Help for São Paulo’s homeless
In São Paulo, around 25,000 people live on the streets. Since 2005, the lay missionaries of Mission Bethlehem have been caring for the city’s homeless in an effort to get them out of the quagmire of drug addiction, violence and hopelessness. Among them are children and the elderly. A hot meal, a shower and clothing are part of the first aid they receive there. But many also seek spiritual and mental nourishment. ACN has been supporting the facility for several years with evangelisation materials, including the distribution of YOUCAT.